published on or around the 15th of the month
from the author of
November, 2006    volume 1- Issue 3

Children With a Wild Streak
by Amy Cortez, Editor - The Eclectic Telegraph
I read an article with the title: "Raise Children With a Wild Streak" by Mark Pruett in the Charlotte Observer recently. The article was a plea from a college admissions counselor wishing for an interesting applicant. My reaction to the article was that clearly not enough homeschoolers had applied to this college!

Raise children with a wild streak
by MARK PRUETT (Charlotte Observer)
Posted on Mon, Oct. 16, 2006
Many `ideal' students lack inventive, restless and self-reliant spirit

In general you will find that homeschooled student will have a wild streak, after all they are making a political statement simply by not being in a school. A homeshooled student is easy to spot in a group. They'll be the one wearing not-too-trendy clothes, describing an experience with a wild look of enthusiasm in their eyes. Homeschool parents are typically the catalyst for the child with the wild streak as we are the biggest fans of thinking outside the box. Though we try to stay fashionable, we'll also describe an experience with a wild look of enthusiasm in our eyes.

There have been many times we go to museums and have the interesting encounter of the mobs of screaming elementary school children being herded by walkie-talkie toting adults. Often the docents in these places recognize us as homeschoolers and will tell me how well behaved and interested in the exhibits our students seem. It its difficult for me to imagine what Mr. Pruett was referring to in his article regarding docile, uninteresting college applicants in this situation, but as I begin to look at high school age students in the same situation, they are much different. Perhaps it is years of being herded, perhaps it is years of uninteresting study, perhaps it is coming down off the Ritalin. Who knows why some high school students seem to disappear. I do observe that many people, the system in general, teachers and parents are trying "get control" of school students through drugs and I find that pretty alarming.

In general, a "wild streak" can be considered a bad thing, especially when we read about the high occurrence of ADHD in our schools. Though I recognize that ADHD can be valid conclusions for some children, I can see in my gifted student how ADHD could be misdiagnosed. I had a teacher in an expensive private school tell me she thought my student was ADD. (Little did we know at the time he was highly gifted.) It's when parents permit school teachers be the child psychologists that we start to have the misdiagnosis of ADD/ADHD problems, I think. That's when the wild streak starts to disappear. The wild streak also begins to disappear when our children are not permitted, or encouraged to think on their own.

When left to their own devices, kids will be kids, as flighty as bumble bees and as amazing as seeing the Green Flash over the Gulf of Mexico at sunset. Give a kid a day with nothing to do and no electronics and watch what happens, they'll invent something interesting to them to do. Have parents forgotten the wonder of being a child?

As always I have to remember, my reference point is a highly gifted visual spatial learner. Sometimes these kinds of kids are misdiagnosed with ADHD. This sort of learner is very intense in tasks, is very precise in explanations and can jump from explanations I understand to pretty divergent ideas and solutions. To the casual observer, this can seem to be an attention deficit. I have learned, is the path this gifted student takes to learning. Being a not-highly-gifted, sequential learner, this means days are going to be challenging, so we make them fun. We try to find an unusual approach to our education.

One story I can tell you of my student with a wild streak is when we were in Florida with my parents several years ago. When we travel, we stick to trying to do our "formal' studies (math, Latin) in the early morning so we can spend the rest of the day exploring and learning in the world. Now my student can be as much of a kid-with-a-wild-streak as the next and on this particular day, he decided having coffee and reading the paper with grandpa was far more "educational" than was the Math or the Latin of the day. Upon learning that this work had not been completed when we were getting to leave for the Historic Bok Sanctuary, I strongly suggested to my student, so that he would not "get behind" in his Math and Latin, that he bring his books and he could find a nice place in this garden to complete his studies. He less than enthusiastically packed a bag and put it in the car. It wasn't until we arrived at our destination that I realized this bag was roughly 15 pound as the books are very thick ( I would have backed away from the suggestion to work in the garden had I known!). He proceeded to schlep this bag throughout the Historic Bok Sanctuary until he found just the right place to work. He completed that days work and the work for the rest of the week as he decided, coffee and paper with grandpa was how he was going to spend his mornings in Florida.

Historic Bok Sanctuary - Historic Bok Sanctuary offers visitors Florida's most abundant opportunities for aesthetic, cultural and personal enrichment. The lush landscapes of the Olmsted gardens, the majesty and music of the carillon tower and the splendor of Pinewood Estate create an experience that inspires all who visit.


The Wonder of Boys by Michael Gurian
Review: Yes, boys and girls are different, says Washington state family therapist Gurian (Mothers, Sons and Lovers), urging that society learn how to deal creatively with gender-specific needs. In considering the cultural effects of heightened gender consciousness, Gurian warns of the dangers of "enmeshing male development with a female culture in transition." Outlining biological differences, he explains that boys are "hard-wired" to possess certain traits. Because of male brain chemistry and the hormone testosterone, boys are apt, for example, to relish risk-taking and to be physically aggressive and competitive (violence, he claims is not hard-wired, but learned through culture).

Driven To Distraction : Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood by Edward M. Hallowell, John J. Ratey

Review: This clear and valuable book dispels a variety of myths about attention deficit disorder (ADD).Although ADD can generate a host of problems, there are also advantages to having it, advantages that this book will stress, such as high energy, intuitiveness, creativity, and enthusiasm, and they are completely overlooked by the 'disorder' model." The authors go on to cite Mozart and Einstein as examples of probable ADD sufferers. Although they warn against overdiagnosis, they also do a convincing job of answering the criticism that "everybody, and therefore nobody" has ADD.

Ritalin Nation: Are We Killing Our Children?
by John W. Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute 6/14/2004
This year, approximately six million children—roughly one out of every eight—will take Ritalin for what is termed “attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder” (ADHD), a condition that was once labeled hyperactivity. However, the drugs that are prescribed for ADHD are cocaine-like stimulants. And according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the human nervous system cannot differentiate between cocaine, amphetamines and methylphenidate (Ritalin).

Since ADHD hit the mainstream in the 1980s, prescriptions for Ritalin have skyrocketed. And over the past three years, there has been a 23 percent increase for all children, including those under 5 years of age. However, as the DEA reports, not only is Ritalin a dangerous narcotic, it also has numerous, troublesome side effects: difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, irritability, nervousness, stomach aches, headaches, blurry vision, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, ticks, hypersensitivity, anorexia, blood pressure and pulse changes, cardiac arrhythmia, anemia, scalp hair loss and toxic psychosis. Other rare side effects include abnormal liver function, cerebral arteritis, leucopenia and sometimes death.

Ritalin Nation: Rapid-Fire Culture and the Transformation of Human Consciousness by Richard J. Degrandpre

Review: These three books explore the controversial phenomena of ADHD, which affects two million children in the United States, where about 80 percent of all Ritalin is consumed. Walker, a neurologist/psychiatrist, contends that parents are often intimidated into accepting Ritalin for their children before a complete diagnosis is made and more benign therapies tried. He posits many other causes of hyperactivity, evaluates nondrug therapies, and suggests ways parents can become advocates for their troubled children.

Perfectionism:What A Man Can Do, What A Man Can't Do.
by Amy Cortez, Editor - The Eclectic Telegraph

If you are homeschooling a gifted student, you see it at least once a week, and sometimes, daily. I know I do. Your student will be chugging along, full speed ahead on a task and then stops cold. Or, perhaps they just don't start the task at all and as the master procrastinator, give you many very intelligent reasons why they haven't started it yet, even displaying those signs of ADD sometimes gifted students are misdiagnosed with, flitting from one task to another, getting nowhere near the task at hand. When I first started homeschooling, this phenomenon dumbfounded me. How could a kid this smart just fall apart on a task like this one? It wasn't until I started reading in detail about giftedness that I realized this is what perfectionism looks like on the surface.

A favorite movie scene of mine and my student is from "Pirates of the Caribbean". Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and William Turner (Orlando Bloom) have just stolen a ship from the British Royal Navy and Captain Jack has Will Turner hanging on the main boom out over the water describing that Will's father was a pirate. Will is not happy at that idea and continues to dangle over the ocean as Captain Jack says, There are only two things in life worth worrying about. What a man can do and what a man can't do. To us, this phrase translates basically to having the courage to face a demon, no matter what it is. This is a phrase I use often in our homeschool.

There are many twists and turns to perfectionism as I have read and observed, but the perfectionist does have an Achilles heel, they want to know it's OK to NOT be perfect in every task and they want you to encourage them to have the courage to move forward.

The window into the world of the perfectionist I have found is by using the sentiment Captain Jack used on Will Turner and that is the idea that a man can complete the task and enjoy the journey, the discoveries along the way and the joy of accomplishment, or he can choose to never get started on the journey and totally miss out. How smart is that? The trick to the perfectionist, I have found, is to give them a realistic goal, get them started, check on the progress of the process, not the product, and to celebrate the completion of the process.

I suppose that's great in theory, but try applying it to homeschooling. Getting the perfectionist to write that essay when he thinks he can't write perfectly is a good trick. But here is what I have found in dealing with a perfectionist.

  1. Often the perfectionist is working for the praise of doing a task very well and not the joy of the accomplishment.
  2. The perfectionist measures himself by the quality of the work he has done and not by the genuine effort applied.
  3. The perfectionist is going to focus on the mistakes, there may be 50 victories and 2 errors in aproject, it's the errors they are going to fixate on.

Your job as a mentor to this kind of student is to untangle these ideas, which is not easy, but achievable. Dealing with perfectionism on a day to day basis is incredibly frustrating, but the thing I always try to remember is that it has got to be even more frustrating for the perfectionist. Remind your student that perfect is a fine goal, but that there really is joy in the activity or task itself and to think about that idea as he progresses through a task. Remind your student daily that you enjoy and accept who they are and how they are no matter what. Acknowledge and praise the effort before you get into the outcome. Teach your student to enjoy the accomplishments and the positive aspects of the task first before he moves on to the flaws.

Procrastinator's Creed
The Page of Procrastination
"We pride ourselves with our ability to get around to it later."

  1. I believe that if anything is worth doing, it would have been done already.
  2. I shall never move quickly, except to avoid more work or find excuses.
  3. I will never rush into a job without a lifetime of consideration.
  4. I shall meet all of my deadlines directly in proportion to the amount of bodily injury I could expect to receive from missing them.
  5. I firmly believe that tomorrow holds the possibility for new technologies, astounding discoveries, and a reprieve from my obligations.
  6. I truly believe that all deadlines are unreasonable regardless of the amount of time given.
  7. I shall never forget that the probability of a miracle, though infinitesmally small, is not exactly zero.
  8. If at first I don't succeed, there is always next year.
  9. I shall always decide not to decide, unless of course I decide to change my mind.
  10. I shall always begin, start, initiate, take the first step, and/or write the first word, when I get around to it.
  11. I obey the law of inverse excuses which demands that the greater the task to be done, the more insignificant the work that must be done prior to beginning the greater task.
  12. I know that the work cycle is not plan/start/finish, but is wait/plan/plan.
  13. I will never put off until tomorrow, what I can forget about forever.



Perfectionism and Gifted Students
Duke University Talent Identificatiuon Program

Educators, researchers, and parents often observe perfectionist behaviors in gifted students. It comes as no surprise, since these students are bombarded daily by parents, teachers, peers, and an entertainment industry that rewards them and encourages them to make the highest grade, produce a perfect painting, give a flawless performance, and gain admission into the best college. What are the characteristics of a perfectionist? Is perfectionism helpful or detrimental to a student’s success? What can be done to help students who place too much importance on perfection?

Some researchers believe that there are two types of perfectionism: healthy or normal perfectionism, and unhealthy or neurotic perfectionism... [read on]

Freeing Our Families from Perfectionism by Thomas S. Greenspon
Book Description:

Perfectionism is not about doing our best. It's not about the struggle for excellence, or the healthy striving for high goals. Perfectionism is about believing that if we can just do something perfectly, other people will love and accept us-and if we can't, we'll never be good enough. Perfectionism is a burden that takes a heavy toll. Personal relationships are strained. Intimacy is elusive. Work seems overwhelming. Creativity slows to a trickle. Physical exhaustion is common. Perfectionism is painful and debilitating-a no-win situation. As parents, we influence our children's emotional development. The bad news is, our own attitudes about love, acceptance, success, and failure can create an environment that promotes perfectionism. The good news is, we can make positive changes that will enrich our children's lives-and our own.

Perfectionism: What's Bad About Being Too Good by Miriam, Ph.D. Elliott, Mariam, Ph.D. Adderholdt, Jan Goldberg (Ph.D.), Caroline Price (Illustrator)






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Updated: December 11, 2006